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Dodger divorcee after $131 million tax-free settlement: 'I made a huge mistake'

By Greg Risling

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, April 24 2013 9:50 a.m. MDT

FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2008 photo, Los Angeles Dodgers owner and chairman Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie McCourt after the Dodgers' baseball game against the San Diego Padres in Los Angeles. The ex-wife of former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt wants to set aside the couple's divorce settlement, claiming he vastly understated the value of a team that sold earlier this year for $2 billion, the highest figure ever paid for a pro sports franchise.

Carlos Delgado, File, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

LOS ANGELES — A couple of weeks before her ex-husband agreed to sell the Los Angeles Dodgers, Jamie McCourt reached a divorce settlement that gave her $131 million tax-free and several luxurious homes.

Now she claims her decision was a huge mistake.

The team's former CEO is seeking to have the agreement thrown out, saying she was misled about the value of the Dodgers that was later sold for $2 billion. A judge will hear closing arguments Wednesday in a bench trial that could reset an argument made during the former couple's divorce battle: Was Frank McCourt sole owner of the Dodgers?

Jamie McCourt claims her ex-husband committed fraud by misrepresenting the Dodger assets as worth less than $300 million during their divorce and he knew all along what the true value was but didn't tell her. Her attorneys believe she was short-changed roughly $770 million.

Frank McCourt's attorneys said Jamie McCourt failed to do her due diligence. In court documents filed early in the divorce case, Jamie McCourt did estimate the value of the team, Dodger Stadium and the surrounding parking lots at $2 billion.

In testimony last week, Jamie McCourt said she was under the impression that she and her former husband were splitting the assets evenly.

"I was surprised I could have made such a huge mistake," she said.

Frank McCourt did not testify during the trial, but one of his attorneys took the stand and said the former baseball owner has paid more than $460 million in state and federal taxes relating to the sale of the Dodgers.

If Judge Scott Gordon tosses out the divorce settlement, then they could resume arguments over whether the Dodgers are community property under California law or whether Frank McCourt owned the team outright. Gordon previously ruled that a post-marital agreement giving Frank McCourt sole ownership of the Dodgers was invalid.

The pair's marriage was dissolved in October 2010, and less than a year later the Dodgers went into bankruptcy. Frank McCourt eventually sold the team for $2 billion to a group that included former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson.

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